Tube overdrive pedals represents just one method of many used by guitarists to distort or enhance the sound produced by their instruments. Regular distortion pedals typically have nothing to do with vacuum tube technology. Instead, they are best for distorting sound while using only solid-state circuitry. On the other hand, tube based overdrive pedals are in higher demand and are typically more expensive. They are comprised of small vacuum tubes which produce a very clean sound that is able to remain that way in spite of high levels of volume. They are ideal for producing a sound often associated with expensive valve based amplifiers. It should be noted that distorting and overdriving are both forms of distortion. The latter implies that the amplifier appears to be pushed to its limits while not actually undergoing such strain. This effect is desired mostly in heavy metal rock and roll music as it offers a warm, well rounded sound that is quite loud. However, different musicians within different genres prefer what their tastes may dictate. Whereas distortion may sound harsh and unnatural, overdriving sounds will likely be heard as well rounded and organic by most listeners.
The Reason for Using Tube Based Overdrive Pedals
Overdriving a sound is not ideal for every guitarist as it greatly enhances volume, not a desirable result in many genres of music. Their tube based construction lends a loud sound while still maintaining its integrity and crispness. Amplifier technology has changed greatly over the years; but, many guitarists still find the sound produced from old fashion vacuum tube technology the most desirable. Of course such amplifiers come with a hefty price tag. Quality tube overdrive pedals are able to recreate the capacity of valve based amplifiers for a fraction of their cost.
A Brief History of Tube Overdrive Pedals
Overdriving an amplifier’s sound dates back to the early 1950s when experimenting guitarists would turn their amplifiers up as loud as possible. They noticed that while this loudness created new tones it also caused the sound to break up and distort. Originally, manufacturers of amplifiers did not support the idea of creating a product that was able to produce loud sounds without unwanted distortion. As such, these companies did not embrace the idea of tube overdrive pedals as they feared they would not operate properly, lessening the life span of a given amplifier. To get a better understanding of how tube overdrive pedals work in relation to other types of distortion pedals, you would be well advised to visit your local music store and try out a few models.
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